Returning to Peace

As we begin a new year, I feel inspired to revisit Peace Pilgrim who inspired the title of this blog, “My Thoughts on Peace”. I have read the book of her life and teachings several times because it serves as a way to help me find my center whenever I feel I have lost my way. This morning I read the centerpiece of her beliefs about peace:

My pilgrimage covers the entire peace picture: peace among nations, peace among groups, peace within our environment, peace among individuals, and the very, very important inner peace – which I talk about often because that is where peace begins.

She talks about how she proceeded each day:

A pilgrim walks prayerfully, and  a pilgrim walks as an opportunity to come in contact with many people, and perhaps inspire them to do something for peace in their own way.

When she is asked to summarize her message she says she does it in one sentence:

This is the way of peace – overcome evil with good, and falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.

Finally, she says that the key word for leading a life of peace is practice.

“We have all the light we need, we just have to put it into practice.”

So on this second day of a new year, I look ahead to meeting with some friends this morning for coffee and fellowship and tonight attending a gathering at the home of dear friends. In between, simple tasks at home that, if I were Peace Pilgrim, I would take on with a joyful and willing spirit.

I am reminded of the words of the song we used to sing in church, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” I would add to that only these words, “One day at a time.”


Realizing Oneness

I am not always sure that my spirituality has practical application. It is kind of nice to think about oneness, for example, which is central to my belief in God. By oneness I mean that we are one together as expressions of the Divine. I see oneness all the time: in acts of kindness, when people are healed through the hands of a physician or through the activity of nature, moments of understanding between people, in forgiveness and reconciliation. I see oneness whenever I connect with someone who by all appearances is different than I am by race or culture. For example, seeing the love of a Syrian refugee parent for her child. I am mother. She is a mother. We are one in that.

This sense of oneness is a spiritual experience for me. But I am living in a world in which decisions are made every day that feel disconnected from the idea of oneness. So what good is it to feel it? Is oneness just about fluffy sentimentality as those expressed on plaques people like to hang around their house or stick in their gardens? Is it about a high one gets when praying? How is oneness relevant in the world of commerce and education and politics or in the mundane living of each day?

Neale Donald Walsch in his book Tomorrow’s God, says that oneness is an attribute of God. He predicts a new spirituality, now emerging, that will understand oneness more fully.  He writes, “The unity of all things-including the unity of God and humanity-is the foundational principle of (this) New Spirituality. The idea will have enormous implications on a global basis.”

Hm! That makes me wonder:

How would we design and support our schools if we felt one with the teachers and all of the students, not just our own. What if this oneness carried over to all schools, all teachers of all children everywhere.

How would we do our shopping if we felt one with those who serve us in the stores and with the other shoppers, both those who can afford what we can and those who cannot?

How would we design our social services programs if we felt one with those who need help through them? How would we finance them? What about those who “slip through the cracks?” Would oneness demand that we notice them and want to scoop them up and bring them along?

What about health care? What about the parent dying of cancer but can’t afford treatment? Would I be able to comfortably accept the privilege of health care and at the same time accept that someone with whom I feel oneness cannot have it? Would I be able to accept the death of another’s child with the lack of consciousness that most of us have in the face of such suffering?

What about crime? Could a person harm another if they felt one with them?  Could a nation declare war against another nation with which they felt one?

And how does oneness play out in the political world? Can a person feel oneness with those in political office and those who are going to benefit or fall victim from the legislation created all at the same time? I can barely imagine it.

Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” King is talking about oneness as a reality that we can’t escape. We don’t have to create it. God already did that. We just have to open our eyes to see it, like the Kingdom of God Jesus was always talking about. Calling people “them” and “us” is a form of denial but doesn’t really change anything. We are one with our other “usses” as well as with the “thems”. That is just the way it is. When we care for another we care for ourselves. When we harm another we harm ourselves as well.

Walsch thinks that more and more people are becoming aware of our oneness with each other. I hope he is right. I want desperately to see this oneness and I want to see more and more people seeing it as well.


Please, America

I was reading this morning a summary about how comedic commentators have been dealing with the terrorist attack in Paris. I really appreciated this comment by Seth Meyers, host of NBC’s “Late Night”:

“I realize there are other places where things like this happen all the time,” he said. “Beirut also had a terrible bombing by ISIS last week as well, and I certainly was guilty of not paying the same level of attention to that atrocity. And when you think about the place where these terrible things are happening the most right now, it would be Syria, a place where the people who live there, who are trying to live normal lives, are so desperate to leave. And for those refugees, whose lives are so difficult right now, I think one of the many, and there are so many sad things about what happened in Paris, but certainly one of them is how much harder life is going to be for those refugees because of this.”
Please, Americans, realize that the immigrants from Syria and other war-torn areas are coming into our country are FLEEING the terrorists that are taking over their country. They need a place to go to protect themselves and their children. They love their country and want to and will return when they can. They need refuge. Remember the words on the statue of liberty:

“Give me your tired your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe fee. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send then, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Dedicated on October 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was a gift to the United States from the people of France. Think of it. This is how France saw us. This is how we must see ourselves.

Powerlessness and Peace

Like most of you, I have been disturbed by the attacks in Paris and others that did not receive as much media but were as harmful to those affected. It is awful to consider where we have come. We have never, as a human race, been able to deal with the issue of war. It is our ultimate failure. I cannot think of times when war led to peace. Temporary quiet, perhaps, but the causes of war were always there waiting to erupt once again.

I am at a loss for answers. France is into retaliation mode. I cannot blame France. But history is not on their side as far as violence overcoming violence. No answers here. None.

But in looking for something to hang onto, I have this:

I cannot change anybody but myself. And knowing this, I can continue to work on my attitude toward those who are different than me, those of different races, cultures, politics, way of life, religious beliefs. I can refuse to label groups for the behaviors of some within those groups. I can relate to people as individuals and to treat them as I want to be treated…with respect and honor. I can pray using the tools my Higher Power has given me. I can speak my thoughts if I think they might be useful while knowing others may not listen or care. I can choose action rather than reaction. I can be a peaceful presence whenever I have it in me to be so. All this I can do.

It may not sound like power, but at some moments, it feels like it is.

Pope and Kim Davis Meeting

It appears the pope is a bit upset with the bishop who invited Kim Davis to be among those to meet the pope. He was unaware, it seems, of the details of her situation. Along with the others at the meeting, he gave her a rosary and asked her to pray for him. Of course, you all know what the media did with this. Now, it seems, he wants to set the record straight, that his actions in no way endorses her actions or her philosophy…any more than it did for any of the others in the group.

Interestingly, he did have a meeting that was publicized with a gay man and his partner. The man was a long-time friend from Argentina. While their conversation was not made public, the hugs and smiles were there for all to witness.

Pope Frances was raised in and serves the Catholic Church. We know what the teachings of the Church are and he, of all people, take them very seriously. We know the Church’s official stand on abortion, gay marriage, priests being able to marry and on women in the priesthood.  I don’t expect him to change much officially, though I have hopes. But what I do expect is that he will continue to be a peacemaker. His meeting with his gay friend, for example, was an act of love and friendship which serves as a model to us all. The fact that it was made public, I believe reveals the intentionality of his message.

Who knows if the Catholic Church will ever approve the marrying of gay and lesbian couples? I, for one, hope for changes. But, to me the pope’s message is loud and clear: Love unconditionally. Respect and honor the God-child in all.

Praying for Peace

Looking over my calendar I notice that Sept.21 is International Peace Day. In years past it was common for churches to come together to pray for peace on this day. I checked the events calendars of some neighboring towns and found nothing happening. Surprisingly, even the Sisters of St. Frances don’t have anything listed.

I wrote yesterday about the power of prayer. Will it get what we want? I said that what a person needs to do is bring their will into accordance with God’s will. So then one may ask, “Why pray at all if we can’t coerce God to do things our way?” I wonder if this is the question that those church communities that no longer bring people together to pray for peace are asking. It sure doesn’t appear that their prayers have been answered. One starts to wonder if peace is God’s will at all.

I don’t know if, by praying for peace in the world, peace is more likely to come. But I do know this. I am one cell in this body we call humankind. I know that I effect those around me. When I am at peace, these are more likely to have peace. Peace is within but it manifests in my words and actions. This is what it means to be a peacemaker.

I cannot speak for the rest of the world. I don’t know why peace is so hard to attain. I am just as discouraged as anyone. But I know that peace is less likely if this peacemaker loses her peace. And I know that this little light of peace in me needs the light in others to keep me believing. Prayer changes me. And in some strange way, I think this is how God’s will for peace in the world will be achieved. Clever God.

Hortons in the World

A link posted on Facebook: “20 Quotes from  Children’s Books that Every Adult Should Know”.
One Quote came from the Dr. Seuss’ book, Horton Hears a Who.
It was quite a coincidence because I had just written about that book in yesterday’s blog, “All Lives Matter.”
The quote was the words of Horton the elephant whenever the angry animals were hammering him about the flower he was so faithfully defending:


I am hearing people from all over the world saying this in many different ways as they cry out to help the refugees that are flooding Europe.

I guess there are Hortons in the world, after all.